For the millions of citizens who rely on government websites for information on everything from taxes to jobs to voting, friendlier websites are perfectlong overdue.
The mandated website overhauls are part of a broader push to bring all government IT into the 21st century as part of the President's Management Agenda. The task is a big one: More than 90% of the most popular federal websites in a late 2017 survey failed to perform to standard on metrics such as page load time, mobile friendliness, security and accessibility.
"Modern information technology must function as the backbone of how government serves the public in the digital age," the agenda says. "Meeting customer expectations, keeping sensitive data and systems secure, and ensuring responsive, multichannel access to services are all critical parts of the vision for modern government."
The clock is ticking for federal agencies, which must outline their plans for updated websites by June under the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (or 21st Century IDEA), passed at the end of 2018. The challenges ahead involve tasks such as:
- Ensuring accessibility to individuals with disabilities.
- Having a consistent appearance.
- Not duplicating any legacy websites.
- Providing public search capability.
- Delivering content through an industry-standard, secure connection.
- Designing for user needs using qualitative and quantitative data-driven analysis that drives management and development decisions and validates user goals, needs and behaviors.
- Continual testing.
- Using web-based forms, web-based applications or digital services to ensure that user needs are addressed and digital transactions are more efficient and accurate.
- Being fully functional and usable on common mobile devices.
To address the need for federal agencies to accomplish significant upgrades within short time frames, Brightspot for Government, an out-of-the-box platform that combines enterprise power with publishing speed. Beyond simply complying with IDEA Act requirements, federal website managers now have an opportunity to fix long-standing pain points for their teams while exceeding expectations for users.
Brightspot was developed as a result of the experience gained from launching hundreds of websites for some of the world’s largest and most well-known companies. Built to rapidly deploy and maintain new digital experiences with no reliance on IT, the platform features pre-built component libraries, powerful migration tools, an easy-to-learn publishing experience, and full compliance with 21st Century IDEA and GSA U.S. Web Design Standards. This means sites built with the Brightspot are:
- Compatible with any organization’s publishing workflow.
- Accessible for people with disabilities via easy-to-use content templates.
- Capable of digital transactions.
- Publishable to and from any device and across platforms—desktop to mobile.
- Flexibly designed with included templates or a theme configured to your specifications.
- Integrated with many popular platforms, including social media, federated search, analytics and design software.
Several government IT modernization projects are already underway, financed by the Modernizing Government Technology Fund. Increasing cloud adoption, updating legacy applications and improving services are all part of these proposals, which will require flexible and secure platforms that integrate easily with others.
The benefits for both citizens and agencies are tremendous. A relaunched VA.gov, for example, is already seeing a 20% boost in customer satisfaction rates and 50% more healthcare applications.
And while most of the emphasis has been on functionality and user experiences, these upgrades will almost inevitably help lower costs. Housing and Urban Development, for example, expects to save $8 million a year on maintenance costs after a mainframe migration. At the IRS, every call from a taxpayer costs $41, versus pennies for digital interactions.
These kinds of successes are within reach for federal agencies of any size with Brightspot for Government.